Here in the United States, cookies are the most popular treat during Christmastime. We were curious about holiday sweets in other countries, so we reached out to several of our international distributors and Wilton Method Instructors to learn more! In this 12-part series, a different country and traditional dessert will be featured each day. Today’s blog and recipe comes from Dan Tucker in the United Kingdom. Dan runs a Cake and Sugarcraft store in the UK and also teaches Wilton Method classes.
Most of my childhood was spent growing up in Australia with my two brothers and as with most families, all three of us would go stay at Grandma’s (Grammy’s) house during the school holidays. All three of us boys had sweet teeth but all different tastes; I love cake but am not keen on fondant or marzipan. My middle brother loves icing and marzipan but is not a fan of cake, and my little brother, well, he will eat just about anything that doesn’t look like a vegetable. Hence being three boys with different tastes there were normally a lot of funny sibling arguments (boys will be boys).
Grammy was British and would always tell us tales of snowy scenes and different foods and treats she grew up with in England. Always trying to get us boys to work together, learn to share and accommodate to all our tastes she came up with a solution and got us in the kitchen to make Battenberg cake! Cake for me, marzipan and crumbs for middle brother and everything for little brother so win, win, win!
We all did our bit from weighing flour, cracking eggs, anxiously sitting on the floor watching the oven and timer, to the best bit of licking our spoons from leftover cake mix. Funny enough we had no arguments or quibbles during the process, which meant peace and quiet for Grammy – until the cake ran out, at least.
I now live in England; moving here as a teenager was tough and of course lots of quibbling was to come with my brothers as we all continued to grow. I always think of this cake when I think of Grammy who has now sadly passed but definitely left a legacy. I have tinkered and changed the recipe over the years and now I make this cake whenever all three of us are together as it caters for all our tastes and ensures no quibbling or bickering between us – apart from who gets to eat my portion of marzipan that is! With such busy independent lives it is harder to get us all together. One time we all definitely get together is at Christmas so I created a special festive version for us all to enjoy and raise a slice to our Grammy who taught us so many things in and out of the kitchen.
I still have a love for all things sweet and have spent all my career teaching and training adults in various subjects, now I run my own Cake and Sugarcraft store in a lovely English Market Town, where I get to let my creativity run wild as well as teach and share passionately about what I love. Wilton Method Classes form a big part of our class schedule at BakeWELL and be it for adult or child the smile on their faces when they have created something amazing gives me the feeling of how I imagine my Grammy felt when watching us 3 brothers working together, sharing, scoffing down cake and licking our jam covered sticky fingers afterwards.
I always make these two at a time, as they don’t last long in my house and they also make great gifts. However, should you wish to make one cake, simply use half of the ingredients listed below and put a parchment division in your lined tin to created two tins or use a Battenberg Tin.
3 sticks (350 grams) Unsalted Butter
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) Golden Caster Sugar (regular is OK if you cannot get golden), plus a little extra for coating
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) Self Raising Flour
3/4 cup (100 grams) Ground Almonds
6 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 Teaspoon Wilton Almond Flavoring (for extra almondy goodness!)
1kg White or Golden Marzipan
Wilton Red and Green Gel Pastes
1 jar of apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 355 degrees Farhenheit/180 degrees Celsius.
Line two 8-inch square cake tins with parchment paper.
Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, ground almonds, vanilla and almond flavor into a stand mixer and mix slowly until well combined. Divide the batter equally into 2 bowls.
Add a small amount of Wilton Christmas Red or Wilton Red Red to one bowl and Wilton Kelly Green coloring to the other. Mix until well blended.
Spread each mix evenly into baking tins and bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for ten minutes, and turn them out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
To assemble, trim off crusty edges so they are both the same size. Cut the sponges in half lengthwise to make four long rectangles of each color.
Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan or microwave and press through a fine sieve to remove any fruit chunks.
Roll out the marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar into a rectangle about 14 inches x 8 inches and around 1/4 inch thick; big enough to wrap around the cake leaving two ends exposed.
Brush the marzipan with the apricot jam, then all sides of the sponges (don’t scrimp on the jam, it’s the best bit!); assembling them at one end of the marzipan. Sandwich two pairs of sponges together like a checkerboard and brush all sides with jam.
Bring the marzipan up and around the cake, press the edges together to make a firm joint, and shape and smooth further if required with a fondant smoother. Trim a small slice off each exposed end to tidy, then gently rub all marzipan sides with regular caster sugar. Gently pinch the corner edges to crimp, add further designs to the marzipan or Christmas decorations if desired. Repeat to complete the second cake.
If you want to make a traditional looking Battenberg only colour one part of the batter with Wilton Pink and use Golden Marzipan or color the Marzipan with Wilton Golden Yellow.